GlenBridge Special School has approximately 112 learners, aged from 5 to 18 years old. The school caters exclusively for learners with special needs presenting with global developmental delay, and a broad range of cognitive impairment.
Many of our learners have an associated chromosomal disorder or genetic defect, as found in Down Syndrome, Williams Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, and several other birth defects.
Sometimes the intellectual impairment is aggravated by complications such as Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder and various other conditions.
Some cases of intellectual impairment are resultant from acquired conditions.
In this regard, we cater for children with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), an avoidable, tragic consequence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. FAS is the cause for much concern in the Western Cape where its incidence is extremely high.
“Tik” (Metamphetamine) in the Western Cape is also extremely problematic.
We are now seeing avoidable birth defects related to abuse of this drug by the pregnant mother.
We have recently opened a specialised unit for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These children require specific teaching methods and significantly smaller class numbers. Visual aids are key to overcoming communication difficulties.
GlenBridge Special School and Resource Centre creates a secure and non-threatening learning environment in which each individual can be challenged in order to reach his/her full potential.
GlenBridge Special School and Resource Centre offers:
- Early childhood development and intervention
- A structured and comfortable atmosphere that accommodates each learner’s specific needs
- Stimulating environment where individuals can reach their full potential
- Specially adapted individualised academic program with emphasis on functional social skills and self-sufficiency
- Participation in sport and cultural events
- Horse-riding with SARDA (South African Riding for the Disabled)
- Free aerobic exercise for some senior learners, held weekly at the local Virgin Active
- Emphasis on expression through music, dance, art and handwork. Several of our learners do not have the ability to express themselves through speech, yet are able to express themselves through other creative activities
- Interaction with similar centres for special needs education
- Interaction with mainstream schools, for example, school presentations done by school choirs, school bands, and so on
- Occupational Therapy in small groups (mainly for the junior classes, due to financial constraints)
- Speech Therapy in small groups (again, mainly for the junior classes, due to financial constraints)
- Transport to and from school for a majority of learners
GlenBridge Special School and Resource Centre, being a government school, battles to survive financially.
The running costs of the school are considerably more than what is provided by the WCED, and only approximately 20% of parents are in a position to pay the full school fees, at roughly R 450 per month (10 x per annum). We find ourselves relying upon a few parents with financial means to make an extra voluntary contribution.
About 60 % of the learners are officially exempted from paying school fees and the balance are either in arrears or often unable to pay the full fee. A significant percentage of our special needs pupils come from disadvantaged communities, where putting food on the table on a daily basis is a challenge in itself. The school does not receive an additional subsidy from the WCED for those children who have school fee exemption.
Transport is offered to most of the learners, however, due to the spiralling cost of petrol, this service has become extremely difficult to maintain.
The school is presently in severe financial difficulty, with the deficit for 2015 being budgeted at approximately R 500 000,00.
Due to the socio-economic climate and the accompanying financial constraints, we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of not being able to provide optimum services and resources to these special learners, already vulnerable and compromised.
We are therefore forced to undertake several fundraising initiatives in order to attempt to overcome the subsidy shortfall.
Corporate Social Investment is an increasing focus of our fundraising. One has to battle hard to win support, as there are a flood of other worthy causes applying for that same slice of the pie!
We feel that these children with special needs are most deserving of our utmost effort, due to the fact that they are amongst the most dependent and compromised individuals in our society.
AREAS WHERE ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED
Our school building is a historical monument which is more than 100 years old. The building requires constant maintenance and some structures need complete replacement. High on our list is the lighting in the classrooms. The electrical work is outdated and works poorly. Especially during the winter months, it is difficult for our learners to see. Our wish is to have it replaced with the suspended fluorescent lights that we have in our new classrooms. The whole school building is in need of painting. General maintenance within classrooms and all over the school property is a continuous requirement. Most of the classrooms as well as the staff room have wooden floors that require maintenance. The floors need to be sanded and polished in order to improve the look of the classrooms.
Twice monthly the school hires a gardening service which costs R1000. Were GlenBridge able to receive funding for both lawnmowers and gardening
equipment, we would be able to teach some of our senior learners to maintain the lawn and garden areas themselves. This would provide them with both a functional and vocational skill that they could potentially use in the job market upon leaving the school.
Security fencing is most definitely a high priority for a school like ours, where so many of our children are vulnerable and compromised to the extent that they are oblivious of dangerous situations. They therefore require both continuous adult supervision as well as secure fencing of the school property and grounds. In a society like ours where criminal activity is so rampant, security issues are a constant worry, and need continuous re-assessment and upgrading. Our existing fencing, besides being in a rather derelict state, is, sadly, an open invitation to any would-be criminals.
Working with these children is indeed an honour and a privilege, and our dream is for these treasured individuals to be afforded the level of excellence that they so truly and rightly deserve.
Please feel free to visit GlenBridge Special School and Resource Centre at your convenience. Our staff is always available to show visitors around the school and the children are always thrilled to meet visitors.
The above list of required resources is something what we would ideally like to have to improve the services that we offer at the school. However we realize that to provide funding for all our requirements would be difficult. Therefore, we would appreciate any contribution that you could possibly make.
Thank you for your interest in our special school.